Harlan Still & Koch

Social Security receives money for disability backlog


There is a significant backlog for Social Security claims processing, which, in turn, leads to a long wait time for badly-needed benefits. The backlog of disability claims stretches past 1 million disabled individuals waiting for benefits. On average, disabled individuals wait 600 days to learn if they will receive disability benefits they have applied for, including health insurance and monthly payments.

To help address this issue, the budget spending bill that was recently passed included a funding increase for the Social Security Administration. The spending bill increased the Social Security Administration's budget by $480 million, bringing its total administrative budget to greater than $12 billion. Around $100 million of the budget increase for the agency is designated to address the disability claims backlog. The Social Security Administration's budget has remained the same since 2010.

During the same period of time that the Social Security Administration has gone without an increase in funding, the number of those receiving disability and retirement benefits increased by 7 million. Also during the same period of time, judges conducting hearings for benefits went from deciding 12 cases on a weekly basis to deciding fewer than 10 cases weekly. Of the funding increase, $100 million will be directed to addressing the backlog by going towards hiring more judges and expanding support staff. Administrative hearings are part of the appeal process, as most claims are initially denied.

There is a concern that even greater resources are needed to help ensure disabled individuals who need benefits receive them in a timely fashion. SSD claims are vital for many disabled individuals and their families, which is why it is helpful for them to understand the sometimes-challenging process and how to have the best chance possible for a successful claim for benefits.

Source: The Washington Post, "Spending bill addresses crushing backlog of federal disability claims," Terrence McCoy, March 28, 2018

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